Renee Nõmmik, the director of the Gaudeamus dance performance, promises an unprecedented and mystical experience


The large-scale dance performance “The Mystery of Midsummer Eve“ will take place at 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Tartu Toome Stadium and it’s director, Renee Nõmmik, promises it will be a nocturnal dance festival dedicated to Midsummer Eve that is filled with tempo, excitement and mystery.

The musical designer of the dance performance is Ardo Ran Varres and the lighting artist is Meelis Lusmägi, who has won the Lighting Designer of the Year award several times.

The idea for the performance is inspired by Juhani Pütsepp’s story, which tells us about a young man and woman who fall in love but are forbidden to be together. Their love brings about a series of adventurous and mysterious events, from which the tradition of Midsummer Eve bonfires is born.

This is a very romantic story, which has the impact of an old legend or a myth about the origins of the Midsummer Eve celebrations. The lighting is like another actor in the performance – an important and constantly changing character. This is the first time we are undertaking anything like this in Estonia, and during the dance celebration a very large lighting system will be used, along with the symbolism of fire and light, the director explains.

Since this will be an outdoor celebration, where no LED screens are used, fire plays a significant role in communicating the dancers’ and characters’ emotions and feelings.

Lighting is one of the characters in the nocturnal dance celebration

“I can also add that, for instance, the woman is identified by one kind of light and the man by another. At the end of the performance, we very effectively combine the two. What happens thereafter will remain a secret, and in order to experience it all, you have to come to the performance,” Nõmmik says slyly, increasing the anticipation.

He comments that light has always been associated with Midsummer Eve – be it in the bonfires or in the search for glow-worms or simply to mark the year’s most light-filled and longest day.

In the context of the Gaudeamus festival, the long history of which dates back to 1956, the “The Mystery of Midsummer Eve“ is exceptional, because a separate dance celebration has never been organized at the festival before. A dance performance presented at night is also an innovation. And for the first time, modern dancers will also be part of the performance. They will be both a uniting and separating element and play the role of water.

“In addition to this story, the dancers from Latvia and Lithuania, which have very high-quality schools of dance, will present their own programmes. And all three will be connected by the theme of the summer solstice. It will all be very exciting, because never before has an auxiliary stage been built at the stadium. To date, the dance celebrations in Estonia has been performed in natural light, but at this performance, we will use duskiness and lighting art to emphasis the important turning points in the performance,” Nõmmik added.

Nõmmik believes that the dance celebration will be sufficiently energetic to create a feeling of excitement and sense of participation among the audience.

Gaudeamus, the largest student song and dance festival in the Baltic countries, will take place from June 22nd to 24th in Tartu, and bring over 4,000 top performers to the Athens on the Emajõgi. The event, which is part of the Estonia 100 programme, combines lighting art, music, choral singing and dance into a special spectacle the likes of which has never been organised in Tartu before. The entire programme is based on the theme of the summer solstice and the festival deals with the Midsummer Eve traditions of the three Baltic countries from ancient times until the present.

Photo: Eesti Tantsukunsti ja Tantsuhariduse Liit.